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Is a deposit of 25% acceptable for a trip more than a year out?

Is a deposit of 25% acceptable for a trip more than a year out?

Apr 6th, 2004, 04:46 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Is a deposit of 25% acceptable for a trip more than a year out?

I am attempting to book my 2005 Botswana safari right now. I have been dealing with a very knowledgable agent at Natural Events and Natural Events (www.natural-events.com) is asking for a 25% deposit to make the reservation firm.

Is 25% the customary deposit for a very high demand place? (Kwando and Wilderness Safaris, in this case)

I guess for comparison sake, I had to put a 20% deposit down for my Italy tour, but that was only three months before the actual trip.

On the flip side, I didn't even need a deposit with Star Of Africa and Shenton Safaris (Kaingo) for my Zambian safari. Possibly, the difference is that I am not dealing with an agent in these cases, but rather with the actual owners. That does make me wonder if the lodges see any of the deposit, in the case of Natural Events or any other agent that requires such a hefty deposit.

Of course I want my preferred dates before they fill up and I will try to negotiate the amount of the deposit. In staying at Kwando Lagoon, Kwando Kwara and Savuti, I do think that these are three high demand lodges, so I probably should not risk losing my dates.

For anybody that has travelled to Wilderness Safaris lodges (or Kwando) in the past, I would like to know how much deposit your agent required and how much in advance you booked your safari. Also, did you have any problems getting your first choice of dates?

Roccco is offline  
Apr 6th, 2004, 08:39 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 424

When we had some bookings at Wilderness Safari properties last year I'm pretty sure that it was a 25% deposit that the agent required. This was done about 5 months before our departure when the trip was first being planned. Had we started this process earlier I would guess the deposit would still be the same regardless of how early the booking was made.
Occasionally we have seen this as a requirement with other types of travel as well.

As far as dates are concerned, I think we lucked out at Mombo and Kings Pool as they seemed to be very desirable camps but we were also there during high season, July, so paid premium rates. The other camp was in Namibia and again no problems there with desired dates.

It's a lot to put out so far in advance but I guess it's just part of the deal.
DJE is offline  
Apr 7th, 2004, 02:54 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 165
I remember paying about 25% deposit for Wilderness but for Kwando it was more like 10%. It could have changed.

Incidentally I am also thinking of Botswana or Zambia for 2004 or 2005 and having looked at various sites which openly display prices, and there are not many of them, I came up with interesting observations for single person supplement in green season with Kwando included in the package

2Afrika $995 for 7 nights and same for peak time

safarinow.com $115 per night

egnu $109 per night

lodges.safari.co.za $150 per night

vintageafrica.com $98 for 9 nights. I wonder if this is an error but for any single traveller it seems a great deal. Their 9 night safari which includes Kwando is $2462. For 2 more nights at Kwara or other camps the cost is $584 or $292 per night.

natural-events.com $1800 extra for a single person for 7 nights in their Chobe Okavango combination and almost $3000 for peak period! It's a good job you are not single.

It would be worth checking all the above sites for Wilderness rates.
king is offline  
Apr 7th, 2004, 04:40 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 51
Thanks, that is very good info for me. I used to travel on my own and do not expect the single supplement varies that much. By switching from Wilderness camps to CC Africa (which does not charge SS and selling at discount) for a six night safari in May. I have now saved over $2,000, which is more than enough for my next trip to India!
llee_2003 is offline  
Apr 7th, 2004, 04:42 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,220
I have only paid 10% deposits for my WS trips but I think that's because my father has already booked numerous trips through the agents in question so they know our credit is good and that our payments (when the time comes) are very prompt and hassle free.

Kavey is offline  
Apr 7th, 2004, 07:00 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 723
I found in my research that most African-based tour operators will require between 20 - 35 deposit at time of booking. They would not require any money, obviousy, as I was going back and forth deciding where I wanted to stay, for how long, etc. but once that was fine-tuned and a booking to be made to ensure I had the accommodations I wanted, the deposit was necessary.
SusanLynne is offline  
Apr 7th, 2004, 07:02 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Forgot to add that I sent my deposit in more than a year in advance. So, Rocco, I don't think it is anything horribly unusual.
SusanLynne is offline  
Apr 7th, 2004, 05:23 PM
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Roccco - 25% is quite normal whether booking a year or more in advance or 6-months in advance. If you want the space held for you whenever you book, you pay the deposit or chance that there "won't be any room at the inn" when "you" think it's an acceptable time to send in your deposit.

Question: When arranging your first trip to SA, including Singita, how far in advance of your travel did you book and when did you pay the deposit? If you were lucky enough to have found space there less than a year ahead, you were lucky. We booked approximately 10-months prior and paid our deposit as soon as the space was confirmed available for our dates.

As to when the supplier (camp) sees the deposit - when you send it; likewise when you make your final payment, the funds are forwarded onto the supplier. Depending on the arrangements the supplier has with the tour operator - the tour operator usually sends the deposit, less their commission and the same goes for the final payment. In a few rare instances, commissions are paid the tour operator at the conclusion of the entire trip (this is mostly for "cruises").

Should you cancel your trip within the 60-days prior (after final payment made), your refund, if any, is based on the percentage-schedule set by the tour operator and such funds are returned from the supplier to the tour operator, and then to you.

Apr 7th, 2004, 05:56 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553

(here's the long answer)

My first trip to South Africa was quite be accident. I had been scheduled to go to Australia and New Zealand with Swain Tours (www.swainaustralia.com) but after the owner of the house we were leasing sold the house out from under us, we were forced to use our vacation money to buy a house, thus cancelling our January trip down under.

We closed escrow in late December, and recovered financially pretty quick, and since I was in training for the L.A. Marathon, I thought it would be perfect to take my holiday right afterward, making early March the target date. In looking through Conde Nast Traveller, I first saw the ads for South Africa from the SA Tourist Board, showing Singita, Table Bay Hotel and other sights and after seeing that the weather would be fabulous in March, I decided on South Africa.

At first I bought a cheesy trip on www.skyauction.com that included my airfare and pretty basic accomodations, but did get me into Kruger National Park, Cape Town and Johannesburg. My finances recovered further and I totally upgraded it to Singita, The Table Bay Hotel, added Matetsi Water Lodge at Victoria Falls (and was comped a night at the Victoria Falls Hotel in a suite after Matetsi lied to me, told me they reconfirmed my flight back to Cape Town (for four additional nights in Cape Town at the Mount Nelson) but really had not. Turns out my flight had ceased to exist about a month before and embarrassed and wanting to possibly get two irate customers away from the rest of the guests, the manager of Matetsi made some phone calls and really hooked us up at the VF Hotel.

(the short answer)

I did not even book Singita until about 45 days before my trip and by then my payment was due anyhow. Back then Singita was only $1,100 per night ($550 per person per night sharing), but the Rand was also at about 11.5 to the dollar!

I can only imagine how inexpensive the normal lodges where back then if Singita was that price. Even the Table Bay Hotel was only about $225 per night back then. I do find it hard to return to South Africa after paying what I did just a couple years ago, one reason why I will not spend any time there this year, although I am sure that I will return in future years, especially if I want to engage in some Africa-Lite with family members that just may not be ready to be forced into a walking safari in the South Luangwa, or canoeing down the hippo infested Zambezi River in Lower Zambezi National Park.

Can you believe that the controller for my company is leaving for Botswana and South Africa tomorrow?! What really bothers me is that he doesn't even know where he is staying (or so he claims) anywhere along the way, just that he is spending time in Cape Town, Joburg, Victoria Falls and for sure Chobe and the Okavango Delta. He's not worthy, he's not worthy!!!

43 days and counting for Italy...53 days and counting for Zambia!!!
Roccco is offline  
Apr 8th, 2004, 12:00 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 596
Sandi, we also booked Singita just about 45 days - 2 months before our trip. Last year a lot of people were afraid to travel because of the war the US raged on Iraq so it made these bookings possible.
Clematis is offline  
Apr 8th, 2004, 04:58 AM
Posts: n/a
Roccco & Clematis - Points well taken in that you both booked rather late or last minute, so naturally the deposits were required then, if not full payment. Makes sense. But under normal circumstances people do plan trips to Africa well in advance and once they are advised the space at their selected accommodations are available and the itinerary is finalized, a deposit is requested. So 25%, 30% and even 35% are not unusual whenever you book - 1-yr, 1-1/2 yrs, 8-mos, etc.

Roccco - if you're not ready to pay the deposit right now and feel by waiting till a year in advance, the same accommodations will still be available, then wait. Only you can make that decision.
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